‘You Are the Old Entrapped Dreams of the Coyote’s Brains Oozing Liquid Through the Broken Eye Socket’: Ecomonstrous poetics and weird bioregionalism in the fiction of R. A. Lafferty (with a comparative reading of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian)

Petersen, Daniel Otto Jack (2020) ‘You Are the Old Entrapped Dreams of the Coyote’s Brains Oozing Liquid Through the Broken Eye Socket’: Ecomonstrous poetics and weird bioregionalism in the fiction of R. A. Lafferty (with a comparative reading of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The fiction of R. A. Lafferty (1914-2002) is at once deeply ecological and deeply strange. Its incessant narrative inclusion of the nonhuman beings, places, and forces of Lafferty’s Oklahoman and otherwise (south)western bioregion evinces an imagination profoundly porous to the local specificities and abundance of one’s more-than-human context. In this way it is deeply ecological. Lafferty’s fiction is also known (among his small devoted readership, which includes such luminaries as Neil Gaiman and Harlan Ellison) as one of the most uniquely off-kilter, wildly imaginative, and arcanely erudite bodies of work in U.S. literature. In this way it is deeply strange. While it is often acknowledged that Lafferty transcends the genre of science fiction (the industry in which most of his early work was published) and that his work is sui generis, little has been done to place him as either a U.S. author generally or an author of regional place more specifically. This thesis attempts to initiate the placement of Lafferty as a bioregional writer of the Great Plains and Southwest, whilst placing equal emphasis on Lafferty’s literary mode as not so much science-fictional as weird, or monstrous (in what we will call a horror-comic or monstro-ludic key). The fusion of these concerns leads this thesis to declare Lafferty a purveyor of American Weird Bioregionalism. Toward this end, we herein assemble insights from regional western U.S. narrative traditions (the frontier tall tale and Native American storytelling) together with recent ecocritical and ecophilosophical discourses (New Materialism and Object-Oriented Ontology) to reconfigure contemporary Monsters Studies toward a more-than-human construal of monsters and the monstrous that reads Lafferty’s weird bioregional fiction through the lens of what this thesis terms an Ecomonstrous Poetics. A chapter devoted to an ecomonstrous reading of Cormac McCarthy’s southwestern novel Blood Meridian provides a canonical comparison to Lafferty with surprising overlap. A final chapter on Lafferty’s implicit ecotheology rounds out the thesis and opens it up to further research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: ecocriticism, R. A. Lafferty, bioregionalism, monster studies, monster theory, monsters and the monstrous, ecomonstrous, ecophilosophy, object-oriented ontology, dark ecology, new materialism, Native American Studies, tall tale, frontier, American Literature, U.S. Western Literature, Oklahoma, Southwest, Great Plains, ecotheology, Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, weird fiction, science fiction, weird, more-than-human, inhumanities, poetics, aesthetics, biosemiotics, material ecocriticism, sacramental theology, sacramental ontology, nonhumans, ecology, environment, Anthropocene, Chthulucene, N. Scott Momaday, H. P. Lovecraft, Choctaw, Cherokee, Kiowa, anthropocentrism, post-colonialism, monstration, category crisis, monstrosity, ludic, horror comedy, ontography, alien phenomenology, ecomimesis, antiecomimesis, environmental writing, vibrant matter, ontology, predation, ecopoetics, material spirituality, folklore, theo-comic, theo-comedy, theo-drama, theo-poetics, theopoetics, environmental imaginary, ecological imaginary, storied matter, natural play, evolution, regionalism, sympoiesis, adduction, monstration, landscape, bioregion, shit, nukfokechi.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies
Supervisor's Name: Benchimol, Dr. Alex
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Dr. Daniel Petersen
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-81615
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2020 12:29
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2020 12:37
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/81615

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